Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gifts of the Season

Being of the Christian cultural persuasion, my family celebrates Christmas as our winter holiday, and at some point in December we do a special Christmas-related event together.  One year it was the Nutcracker at the Fox, another ice skating and hot cocoa, another year we saw the Alliance Theatre's A Christmas Carol.  Last weekend we went to see Theatrical Outfit's Gifts of the Magi, at the Balzer Theatre at Herren's.  The play is based on two stories by O. Henry, the obvious "The Gift of the
Magi" and another woven in for comic relief, "The Cop and the Anthem." Ever clueless, I didn't even realize it was a musical until long after tickets were purchased, and wow -- 'twas a truly magical performance.  Go see it (it's showing through December 22)!  I am partial to baritones, and a handsome baritone with charisma (Kevin Harry as narrator Willy) is even better.

Last year during Advent, I read a picture book version of "The Gift of the Magi" to the teens after dinner, unknowingly (but fortunately) setting the stage for a better appreciation of the Theatrical Outfit production.  There are many adaptations of O. Henry's story, and we have several in our libraries.  The one we read (first in the list) was borrowed from the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, and is set in fairly contemporary Appalachia.
and of course the original story in the un-illustrated collection The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories and downloadable as a free ebook or audiobook at Project Gutenberg (the original free ebook organization).

Other Christmas-y offerings in the library range from literary to Latino.
  • Christmas Books  by Charles Dickens (includes "A Christmas Carol" and others) or download the Gutenberg ebook
  • Breakfast at Tiffanys  by Truman Capote.  Includes "A Christmas Memory," Capote's recollection of making Christmas fruitcakes, "for President Roosevelt,"  with a favorite older cousin. The elementary library has it as a picture book.
  • Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances  by YA favorites John Green, Lauren Myracle and Maureen Johnson.  Intertwining short stories about high school couples at Christmas. Also in our ebook collection.
  • The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nussbaum. Did you know the Puritans outlawed the holiday??  In 1659, Christmas was a boisterous drunken celebrations.  Nussbaum's book explores the history of Christmas from Saturnalian excesses to today's festivity of domesticity and consumerian.

Listen to Welsh poet Dylan Thomas' story A Child's Christmas in Wales on CD, read by Thomas himself (oh, that musical Welsh accent), plus a video adaptation and an illustrated children's book.

and a very very special offering:

Peace, Love and Wonder: Songs of Christmas  a gorgeous professional release by Kate Murray, Paideia's very own, fabulously talented chorus teacher.  You can buy it on iTunes or listen on Spotify!

Come to the library and check out a gift soon.  What are your favorite Christmas/Solstice traditions or memories?

1 comment:

Natalie Bernstein said...

Makes me want to read them all. Gorgeous. And O. Henry's story is a perfect blend of ironically overblown nsrration and low-brow dialog. And I know a post like this takes time. Thank you for helping with my own reading!